Home field advantage was a factor January 4 at Rye, as the wrestling team edged Harrison by a razor-thin margin in front of boisterous friends, family and former grapplers. Rye’s 36-35 win over their rivals improved the team’s record to 11-4.
The Garnets jumped out to a 9-0 lead after a Harrison forfeit in the 96-pound weight class and George Knudsvig’s 7-5 decision at 103 pounds. The Huskies responded with three consecutive victories, but Rye’s skid came to a halt when senior captain Will Florio won a 14-7 decision in the 130-pound class.
After Tyler Conway’s 2-1 loss in the 135-pound bracket, the Garnets reeled off three-straight victories of their own. Fritz Zahringer (140) pinned rival Kurt Hinrichs in 5:58, Jake Stone won via forfeit, and senior captain Donovan McSorley won the 152-pound match in convincing fashion with a pin in under two minutes. Although Rye dropped three of the final four matches, the one win in that run – Joe Simolacaj’s pin in the 189-pound class – was enough to secure the victory.
First-year head coach Matt Beatty, who is determined to restore the program to powerhouse status, was thrilled with the victory over a Harrison team he greatly respects.
“Each student-athlete here knows how important they are to the team and its goals,” said Beatty. “They’ve put in a tremendous amount of hard work and each is beginning to see how their sacrifices help maximize their potential.”
Beatty credits Rye’s stellar performance to the team’s pride and confidence, which is fostered by the captains, Florio and McSorley, as well as assistant coaches Anthony Del Vecchio and Max Billington.
“Without their wisdom and commitment to this team we would not be 11-4 right now,” Beatty noted of the leaders.
The Garnets’ support of one another is on full display in a ritual implemented this year. The wrestlers on the floor form a “tunnel” to receive each teammate off the mat, shaking hands, rooting for, and patting them on the head as they exit, win or lose.
“It’s great to look over at them when one of our teammates has just gotten beat and – even though we all know that’s not good – still the positive feedback they have for each other is tremendous. Our captains are doing all of this.”
Rye’s next home match is January 18 against Fox Lane.
– Melanie Cane